For many of us, a mosquito bite is just annoying. Mosquitoes can spoil a warm summer night on the veranda, or an otherwise lovely hike in the forest or in the mountains. In some areas of our planet, especially the tropics, mosquitoes are unfortunately a little more than just annoying. They carry and transmit various diseases to living beings and especially humans that can be detrimental to our health, even lethal. Europe is also experiencing an increasing number of human cases of Mosquito-Borne Diseases in the last 10 years, both imported and indigenous, which demonstrates that Europe is not immune from mosquito-borne diseases. The most important mosquito-borne diseases in Europe are West Nile Virus (WNV) linked to Culex mosquitoes, Malaria to Anopheles mosquitoes and Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika to Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Although specific actions and practices were adopted to control these diseases in the past decades, the re-emergence of outbreaks is just around the corner.
Thus, there is a constantly increasing need to innovate on how the continuous threats of mosquito-borne diseases are confronted, treated but most of all foreseen. Read on and learn how a group of European experts have developed EYWA, an EarlY WArning System for Mosquito-Borne Diseases.
West Nile Virus
Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya
People in Europe
Mosquito-borne diseases in Europe
Among the various mosquito-borne diseases, West Nile Virus (WNV) was considered to be low risk for humans until the 1990s. Since then however, WNV appears to be expanding its geographical range in Europe and in the rest of the world, causing an increasing number of outbreaks and escalating public health concern. In Europe, human cases of WNV have been registered in almost all Eastern, Central, and Southern European countries with hotspots in Italy since 2008 and Greece since 2010, indicating that the disease has been established in Europe. WNV human infections have sharply increased in 2018 as compared to the previous four years, with the most affected countries being Italy (576 cases), Serbia (415 cases) and Greece (316 cases) according to the ECDC. Greece, Serbia, Italy, France and Germany, represent 54% of the total burden of the WNV disease in Europe and neighboring countries, for the period of 2010-2020, with a total of 3.449 out of a total of 6.340 cases.
Malaria has the highest mortality rate among known mosquito-borne diseases and was endemic in Europe for centuries until it was finally eradicated in 1975 through a number of factors related to socioeconomic development. Since then, 99% of Malaria cases in Europe are imported by international travelers and migrants from malaria-endemic regions. According to ECDC, the number of confirmed malaria cases reported in the EU from 2008 to 2012 ranged between approximately 5000 and 7000, whereas in 2019 they reached almost 9000. However, the combination of imported cases and the presence of Anopheles mosquito populations may lead to autochthonous malaria cases, as they have been occurring in Greece since 2009.
Imported cases of Dengue are frequently reported by travellers returning to the EU from endemic areas. In August 2010, several autochthonous cases were reported in Croatia and France in areas infested by Aedes albopictus. An outbreak of autochthonous Chikungunya virus infections took place for the first time in Europe in 2007 in Italy, with 217 laboratory-confirmed cases. In 2010 and 2014, autochthonous cases were reported in France. Following these outbreaks, several sporadic events of local transmission of these diseases have been reported in Europe.
Mosquito habitat changes
The changing climatic and ecological conditions, global travel and trade, human behaviour, as well as the rapid and unplanned urbanization, are key trends that influence the seasonal and geographic distribution of mosquito population and therefore the transmission of the pathogens. Environmental, meteorological and geomorphological variables influence the biotic conditions of mosquitoes, the virus development inside them, the transmission cycle of viruses between mosquitoes and hosts, and their chances for blood meals.
Increased access to Earth observations
Satellites are a game changer in the field of Earth monitoring at local, regional and global scale, enabling Earth observations at enhanced spatio-temporal scale. They allow shorter revisit times and larger coverage, at low or no cost, providing that way vast amounts of data.
Copernicus - The European Earth Observation Programme
Copernicus is the European system for monitoring the Earth and is coordinated and managed by the European Commission.
Copernicus is the single largest provider of Earth observations in the world (20 terabytes of space-based data per day). It is a major contribution from Europe to the Group on Earth Observation.
The development of the observation infrastructure is performed under the aegis of the European Space Agency for the space component and by the European Environment Agency and EU countries for the in situ component.
Copernicus is a provider of both space-based and in-situ data. For the Early Warning System for Mosquito-borne diseases service Copernicus and other space-based data have been collected in addition to other in-situ Earth observations as well as other types of data and information.
Transforming Earth observations to help combat Mosquito-Borne Diseases
EYWA incorporates Copernicus (Sentinel-2) and other space-based data (Landsat-7 & -8, MODIS and ERA-5) in addition to in-situ entomological, epidemiological, socioeconomic and crowdsourcing data to gain a better understanding of the mosquitoes' habitat.
For satellite data harvesting and processing it exploits a vast range of European and non-European services, such as the Umbrella Sentinel Access Point of the Hellenic Mirror Site (an API that constitutes 100% EU innovation and has been developed by BEYOND-NOA in the framework of the NextGEOSS and EOPEN EU projects), CreoDIAS and Google Earth Engine.
For Big Data management, EYWA harnesses the power of the Open Data Cube (ODC) technology, the state-of-the-art tool for Earth Observation and other data fusion, feature engineering and data analytics. All these processing steps are available through the dedicated Python API “EYWAdcAPI” at BEYOND-NOA’s GitHub profile in the epidemics repository.
The result is a “mammoth” feature space of at least 10-years time-series of data for every mosquito-traps network in nine regions in Europe, as this story is written. Continue reading to find out more about these areas and their data, and also how EYWA cooperates with NextGEOSS to open and freely offer 45 datasets of environmental, meteorological and geomorphological data.
Early Warning System for Mosquito-borne Diseases - EYWA
Now one might wonder, how is this plethora of independent data transformed into meaningful scientific knowledge?
EYWA’s answer is a factory of dynamic and data-driven models. The “mammoth” feature space, with all the aforementioned time-series of observations and derived knowledge, feeds the models in order to teach them about the dynamics of mosquitoes’ abundance and mosquito-borne diseases transmission.
Two generic models, replicable to multiple areas with the minimum needed adaptation, for mosquitoes’ population and human cases outbreaks prediction were developed. During a co-design process with local public health authorities and decision makers, two more site-specific models, with the same scope, were created according to the highlighted users' needs.
“EYWA is a vision, a network, a European and even global standard.
EYWA offers a scalable, reliable and sustainable early warning system, relying on Earth observation big data that combines satellite data with entomological, epidemiological and socioeconomic data, to forecast and monitor Mosquito-Borne Diseases.”
- Dr. Haris Kontoes, Project Coordinator
EYWA has operated successfully with a demonstrated impact in five regions in Greece (Central Macedonia, Thessaly, Wect Greece and Crete) and Veneto region in Italy, forecasting Culex mosquito populations and West Nile Virus outbreaks, during the mosquito season in 2020. It disseminated its results to the relevant Public Health Authorities through monthly reports and the EYWA Web Platform. It was also pre-operationaly tested for Culex (WNV) abundance prediction in Vojvodina in Serbia and Baden-Württemberg in Germany, for Anopheles (Malaria) in Veneto in Italy, and for Aedes (Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika) in Grand Est and Corsica in France.
“EYWA is a robust and scalable Early Warning & Decision Support System that welcomes new partners from around the world to share data and transform scientific knowledge into decision-making & mosquito control actions”
- Katerina Kyratzi, Project Manager
OPEN DATA SHARING
NextGEOSS Data Hub and EYWAopenAPI
EYWA is an autonomous European Initiative, building upon the Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World vision for Europe. It incorporates the open data sharing principles by creating the “EYWAopenAPI” (http://epidemics.space.noa.gr/api_v2/) to ensure interoperability with GEOSS DAB API and other data harvesting standards used by GEOSS Portal, GEO-CRADLE Data Hub, etc.
Moreover, BEYOND/NOA is developing a harvester that will connect with the NextGEOSS Data Hub and publicly catalogue a plethora of data. Among them are the 10-years’ time-series of environmental, meteorological and geomorphological data for every mosquito-traps network, which are created and opened by EYWA, namely:
- Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
- Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI)
- Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI)
- Normalized Difference Built-up Index (NDBI)
- Land Surface Temperature (LST)
- Number of breeding sites around sampling/trapping sites
- Number of wastewater treatment facilities around sampling/trapping sites
- Elevation, Aspect and Slope of the sampling/trapping sites
- Distance of sampling/trapping sites from the coastline
For a full list, see the NextGEOSS data hub.
“The added-value of EYWA, offered through the open API, is the provision of analysis ready data that have been collected from diverse Earth observation sources (e.g. Copernicus Sentinels, Landsat and MODIS satellite missions; Copernicus Land Monitoring Service; GEOSS Portal), in order to assist public health professionals, scientists, researchers and other stakeholders to support their operations, further analysis or studies.”
- Anestis Trypitsidis, Data Management Expert
The "EYWAopenAPI" (http://epidemics.space.noa.gr/api_v2/) is offering automatic retrieval of analysis ready environmental, meteorological and geomorphological remote sensing derived indexes that can be exploited by anyone involved in the health and epidemics domain. These environmental and climatic essential parameters may be related to not only mosquito-borne diseases, but to other types as well. The data are initially available for nine European regions at NUTS 3 spatial analysis level.
If you are a public health professional, from an accredited organisation or public health authority, and you are interested in using the EYWA system services, you can express your interest by sending an email to the Project Coordinator, Dr. Haris Kontoes, at firstname.lastname@example.org (using as Subject: EYWA Expression of Interest - “your organisation’s name”).
EYWA is cataloguing the analysis ready environmental, meteorological and geomorphological remote sensing derived indexes at the NextGEOSS Data Hub. Through this fast, easy and user-friendly way, scientists, researchers and students from all over the world may explore these environmental and climatic essential parameters to conduct further scientific research and analysis.The data are initially available for nine European regions at NUTS 3 spatial analysis level. Also, any person interested in exploring science as a hobby is welcome to download the data as well
NextGEOSS data hub and platform
Want to learn more?
NextGEOSS and EO4EViDence are organising a webinar spring 2021
NextGEOSS and EuroGEO Action Group EO4EViDence will organize a webinar on EYWA later this spring. Subscribe to the NextGEOSS webinar series to make sure you do not miss out this opportunity to learn from global experts on your subject of interest.
NEXTGEOSS WEBINAR SERIES
Webinars about technologies for Earth observation communities
PEOPLE and organizations
Learn about the people and organizations behind EYWA
EYWA is coordinated by the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) – BEYOND Centre of Earth Observation Research and Satellite Remote Sensing. BEYOND act as leader of the Action Group EO4EViDence under the EuroGEO Climate Change Cluster. The Early Warning System for Mosquito-borne Diseases EYWA is based on Earth observation data and state-of-the-art technological tools, building European scientific excellence in the field.
15 partners from 5 countries contribute to EYWA
Meet some of the EYWA experts in this webinar recording. You can also check out the webinar slides and additional information.
About the authors
About the Authors
Katerina is the Project Manager of the EYWA Project & team member of the BEYOND Centre of Excellence at the National Observatory of Athens. She is coordinating the technical teams, engaging with partners and stakeholders, organizing the dissemination & communication campaigns, and networking to enlarge the EYWA community and search for funding opportunities. She holds a BSc in Geology & Geoenvironment from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, an MSc in Geoinformatics from the National Technical University of Athens, an MBA from the Athens University of Economics and Business, and is fully PRINCE2® Certified. LinkedIn: katerina-kyratzi
Anestis is a Project Manager at National Observatory of Athens, part of the BEYOND Centre of Excellence team. He joined the team in late 2016 and since then he has been participating as a PM in EC and commercial projects (NextGEOSS, Marine-EO, EOPEN, FIRE, EOClinic, EO4SD CR, Copernicus Data Hub Relay). In NextGEOSS, Anestis has been also involved in data cataloguing activities by being responsible to assess the different open catalogues and lead NOA’s team in developing data harvesters for the NextGEOSS data hub. Hence, in this example he is assisting to bridge the worlds of two diverse activities in order on one hand to enhance the catalogue of NextGEOSS by showcasing the importance to share analysis ready to be used data and on the other hand to exploit and make visible a plethora and wealth of EO derived datasets through standard protocols (RestAPI). Among other activities, Anestis is also active in Capacity Building activities by organizing trainings and info sessions, with the mandate to assist diverse users’ communities to make use of EO data in to their daily operations.
Haris Kontoes is the coordinator of EYWA and lead the EuroGEO action group EO4EViDence. He is Research Director at NOA and holds a Phd in Remote Sensing of the Environment. 20+ years experience in managing EC and ESA projects (BEYOND, RISK-EOS extension to Greece, FIREMENTOR, SAFER, LinkER, TELEIOS, LIMES, MASSIVE, 3HAZ-CORINTH, MARRIS, etc) focusing on risk assessment and mitigation, risk monitoring and environmental management systems implementation emphasizing on geohazards (ESA PI), forest fires, environmental resource management and LU/LC mapping. He has been actively involved as delegate of the Greek Ministries of Development and Education in Space Committees and international forums.
Bente Lilja Bye
Bente Lilja Bye has been a member of the GEO community since 2004, engaged both as representative in the GEO plenary, in committees and contributing to the GEO Work Programme, and currently represents Norway on the GEO Programme Board. Bente runs a small research and consultancy company, BLB, focusing on transforming Earth observation data to information and knowledge for societal benefit. She is responsible for Communication, Dissemination and Assessment as partner in NextGEOSS.
MORE STORIES FROM THE BLOG...
Read about more success stories